Those opposing abrogation of Article 370 should spell out how it has benefited Jammu and Kashmir, Bharatiya Janata Party President Rajnath Singh has said while favouring a debate on the constitutional provision that grants special status to the state.
“Our stand is that because of this (Article 370), Jammu and Kashmir has not benefited at all. Had it benefited, had it helped in reduction of poverty, then we would welcome it. But this has not happened,” said Rajnath in an interview.
Favouring a debate on the issue, he said those opposing abrogation of the Article “should spell out how it has benefited the state. We believe it has not benefited the state.”
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In its manifesto for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, the party has said, “The BJP reiterates its stand on the Article 370 and will discuss this with all stakeholders and remains committed to the abrogation of this Article.”
On relations with Pakistan if NDA comes to power, the BJP chief said there will be quest for friendly ties with expectation of reciprocity.
“Pakistan is our neighbour. We will want to have good relations with it and all other neighbours. But Pakistan also should have the same approach. We also expect Pakistan to have good relations with India,” Singh said.
On apprehensions that a Narendra Modi government could have a hawkish approach towards Pakistan as BJP has been accusing the Manmohan Singh government of being “weak” in dealing with that country, he said, “The UPA government failed on the diplomatic front. We have already extended friendly hand to Pakistan and all countries.”
Singh said an NDA government would like to have cordial relations with neighbours and others also.
On the reference in the party manifesto that a BJP-led government would “revise and update” the nuclear doctrine, Singh said there should be no misgivings as it will maintain “no-first-use” policy.
Seeking to downplay the issue, he said, “All governments keep reviewing nuclear policy to tune it with the interest of common masses.”
BJP has said in the manifesto, “We will follow an two- pronged independent nuclear programme, unencumbered by foreign pressure and influence, for civilian and military purposes, especially as nuclear power is a major contributor to India’s energy sector.”
It has said, “BJP will study in detail India’s nuclear doctrine, and revise it and update it, to make it relevant to the challenges of current times. We will maintain a credible minimum deterrent that is in tune with changing geostatic realities.”
Credible minimum deterrence is the principle of India’s ‘no-first use’ nuclear weapons policy, in force since the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, and under it, an arsenal which can help in retaliating strongly if attacked by an adversary, will be maintained.
Releasing the manifesto along with other senior leaders here on April 7, BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi had vowed to pursue “zero tolerance” approach on internal as well as external security so that “no one dares threaten” India.
The BJP chief also referred to the fishermen issue which has been an irritant in ties between India and Sri Lanka.
He contended that Modi as Prime Minister will resolve the issue.